Conference Details


National Empowerment Center

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Alternatives Keynote Speakers Announced!

The National Empowerment Center, a National Consumer Technical Assistance Center, is pleased to announce that the Alternatives Conference 2017 will be held in Boston, Massachusetts at the Boston Park Plaza from Friday evening, August 18 through Monday, August 21, 2017. Each Alternatives Conference offers in-depth technical assistance on peer-delivered services and self-help/recovery methods.

The Alternatives 2017 Conference Committee, which includes consumer/survivor/peer leaders across the nation, is seeking proposals for presentations and is interested in including diverse perspectives. We invite everyone to consider becoming a presenter. First-time presenters are especially welcome. Learning from each other is a clear example of self-help, mutual support, and the principles of recovery in action.

Alternatives is taking the opportunity to renew its commitment to diversity and highlighting the intersection of our movement with so many others. Writer and activist, Audre Lorde once said, “we do not live single-issue lives.” We know this to be true. We know that individuals who’ve been given psychiatric diagnoses, experienced trauma, and/or otherwise received mental health services are a varied group made up of many strengths, backgrounds, and a multitude of experiences. We believe we are stronger for those differences.

As a step toward demonstrating our commitment, we will be paying extra attention to representing different viewpoints, welcoming people who don’t ordinarily participate, representing and involving people of different cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds in every aspect of the conference. We invite you to help us by completing the voluntary demographics with your proposal application, and letting us know if you identify as being a part of any one of a number of groups that have historically been marginalized or under represented.

Continuing Education Units (CEUs)

The National Empowerment Center has applied for CEUs for Alternatives attendance through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). And has also applied for CEs through The Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC). NAADAC continuing education (CEs) are accepted for PSS, PWS, CRM, MSW, LCSW, LPC, and CADC I, II, and III. More information at:

Certified Peer Specialists and others can receive certificates of attendance with the number of contact hours.

Conference Registration

The Alternatives Conference offers life-changing opportunities to those in the mental health peer-recovery movement. It helps mental health consumer/survivors make valuable connections, develop leadership skills, provide and receive peer support, and share expertise and resources. We honor those who have paved the way, provided leadership in promoting recovery, and kept the Alternatives Conference alive for three decades. We welcome emerging leaders and those who are new to the peer movement to this conference. This year, our theme is Building Healing Communities Together. We can’t do it alone; together we can build healing communities for everyone.

For the first time, Alternatives will take place in Boston! Boston is Massachusetts’ capital and largest city. Founded in 1630, it’s one of the oldest cities in the U.S. and has many museums and landmarks that showcase the rich history of America and Boston. In addition, the city offers various food options, and a lasting legacy of arts, culture, and education.

Alternatives conference registration is $425 for the entire conference; $165 for a one-day rate.

Refund Policy -- Cancellations must be received in writing. If cancellation is requested on or before July 21st you will receive a full refund, minus a $35-per-person administration processing fee. After July 21st, registrations will not be refunded. Registrants who are no-shows for the conference will not receive a refund.

The Alternatives 2017 Registration Brochure is now available (PDF, 1.2MB, 4 pages)

Register online at

Group Registration

Groups of 10 or more will receive 1 registration free for every 9 purchased. If you would like to register as a group of attendees, please contact Alice Smart at for the group registration spreadsheet.

How to Obtain Funding for Alternatives 2017

The National Empowerment Center would like everyone to be able to attend Alternatives 2017 regardless of income. If you are looking for financial assistance to attend, the time to start is now!

Ideas and resources for you to use in your search for funding (PDF, 111KB, 6 pages)


Applications to present workshops at Alternatives 2017 were due by March 24, 2017.

We welcome presentations in Spanish and other languages.
Damos la bienvenida a solicitudes de presentaciones en español y otros idiomas.

Caucus Sessions

Each year Alternatives provides a forum for networking and discussing important issues with peers from around the country. The Caucus Session Application (PDF, 411MB, 1 page) is now available. The deadline to submit: June 20, 2017. Space is limited - sign up early!

Exhibit Information

The Exhibit Space Agreement (PDF, 403KB, 1 page) is now available. Space is limited, sign up early! The deadline is July 14, 2017. More information will be available soon.

We hope to see you at Alternatives 2017 in Boston!

Alternatives 2017 is funded by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Services Administration